Once you remove a tick from your cat, keep a close eye on him for the next week or so. Contact your veterinarian at the first sign of sickness, especially fever, loss of appetite, listlessness, apparent stiffness or aching in the joints. The bite location can also become infected. In rare cases, the tick bite itself can cause a progressive weakness in the back legs of the cat, a condition called tick-bite paralysis. Although this usually goes away on its own within 24 to 72 hours after the tick is removed, it can require IV fluids or additional support from your vet's office. That's why you should see a vet for this, rather than wait to see if it clears up.
Removing a tick from your cat is a traumatic experience for any cat owner. The best way to treat ticks, therefore, is to prevent them from attaching in the first place. Keep in mind that indoor cats almost never get ticks, unless they're carried in by other pets, pests or people. If your cat does go outdoors on a leash, steer him away from tall grasses and bushes. Free-roaming cats should be checked regularly for ticks when they come indoors, especially during hot weather and in rural areas. Ticks are small and can be easily missed, so be particularly aware of symptoms any time your cat goes outdoors -- even if you don't see any ticks.
If your cat isn't on a flea treatment program, take him or her to your vet for a prescription. Many products that prevent fleas also prevent ticks and other parasites. This goes for the other pets in your household as well. Another way to keep ticks away from your pets in general is to keep down the rodent population around your house because they can carry ticks as well.
Ticks are nasty little creatures, but these tips should provide you with effective tools for keeping them off your cat.
- ASPCA. "Cat Care: Ticks." ASPCA. 2011. (April 19, 2011)http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/ticks.aspx
- Companion Animal Parasite Control. "Ticks on Cats." CAPC. 2011. (April 19, 2011)http://www.petsandparasites.org/cat-owners/ticks.html
- Eldredge, Debra M., et al. "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook." Howell Book House. Dec. 10, 2007.
- Griffin, Morgan R. "Natural Insect Control: Flea and Tick Treatments for Pets." WebMD. Sept. 25, 2009. (April 19, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/health-ehome-9/flea-tick-control-for-pets
- Pet Place Veterinarians. "Tick Bite Paralysis." Intelligent Content Corp. 2011. (April 20, 2011)http://www.petplace.com/dogs/tick-bite-paralysis/page1.aspx